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Charlie Elphicke MP writes ...

Campaigning for fair share of healthcare in Dover and Deal

The building of the new Buckland Hospital was all about bringing more services to Dover. The new 24 million state-of-the-art facility would stop people having to make long journeys out of town to Ashford, Canterbury or Margate.

Therefore, I am extremely disappointed and frustrated about the recent removal of a vital eye treatment service. Its simply not on and Im doing everything I can to bring it back to Buckland.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), where older people start to lose their eyesight, was treated at Buckland by injecting medication into the eye through a very fine needle. No-one likes to think of their mum or dad or grandparents having to go through a procedure like this. Particularly when it has to be repeated on a monthly basis.
Yet, until recently, at least Dovorians were able to be treated down the road at Buckland. Now the service has been withdrawn, these older patients with waning eyesight are forced to make long and difficult journeys to Ashford or Canterbury. These patients, often in their 80s or 90s, are desperate to get home to rest after having the injections. Yet for those relying on public transport, it takes hours to get back to Dover. And some older people have to take these journeys alone.
The NHS is there for us all but particularly for the most vulnerable in society. Thats why the decision to remove this eye treatment from Buckland is an extremely bad one. Particularly as a new cataract theatre is now operating. Plus, there were 3,000 ophthalmology clinics at Buckland last year, so there is clearly high demand. Im pressing the local Clinical Commissioning Group and our hospital trust to urgently bring the AMD treatment back to Dover.
I will also be asking them why Buckland is not yet offering the anti-coagulant, phlebotomy and specialist elderly care services we were promised. When the hospital opened in 2015, health chiefs said wed have 60,000 appointments a year. Yet two years on, 29% of the hospital remains unused. There is so much potential for Buckland and Im determined to see it fully realised.
Of course, we must not forget how far we have come thanks to years of campaigning and hard work. In Deal, our much-loved hospital was left on the brink. Now we are getting more services and staff numbers are up 17% on last year. At Buckland, twice as many clinics are now operating than when it first opened. Whats more, a new 2.4 million project to provide extra GP services starts next month, working out of ten rooms across Buckland and Deal Hospital. They will be open 8am to 8pm, seven days a week meaning more people can be treated locally.
We are finally getting a fairer share of healthcare. Yet health chiefs need to see sense, deliver the services we were promised and bring the eye treatment back to Buckland

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